21 Really Fun Things to Do in Kitty Hawk, Outer Banks

Southern Shores Beach with Kitty Hawk Pier Distance at Sunrise in Outer Banks

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As first-time visitors, we decided to stay in this particular beach community in the Outer Banks because there are so many things to do in Kitty Hawk! Reasons include the variety of local restaurants, bars, and, of course, the beach. There are also a number of family-friendly activities that will keep everyone entertained during their North Carolina coastal vacation.

I personally stayed in Kitty Hawk but would make one small change, keep reading to find out our helpful tip.

You may also like our article on the best towns in the Outer Banks and our other North Carolina guides.

Best Things to Do in Kitty Hawk, NC (Atlantic Side)

Kitty Hawk Pier

Kitty Hawk Pier (5353 N Virginia Dare Trail) sits above the Atlantic Ocean, providing a safe haven for local and visiting fishing enthusiasts who can use the area after purchasing a day pass.

The pier is currently owned by Hilton, which sits behind it, and its interior building is used as a wedding and events space!

Public showers are located by the pier.

You can easily walk between Kitty Hawk and the next town, Southern Shores; which I did at sunrise on my first morning in the Outer Banks – absolute bliss!

Kitty Hawk Pier Sunrise Outer Banks North Carolina

Public Beach

One of the reasons that Kitty Hawk is so popular with visitors is that it offers public access to beaches, whereas the likes of Duck north of Kitty Hawk only allow residents or those staying in accommodations with private beach access to use their shores.

However, parking can be a little tricky, so if you have the option to stay around the North Virginia Dare Trail road, take it as this is the closest accommodation gets to the ocean, which means there is no need to drive there.

This is the change I would make next time as we stayed on the sound side of town, which means crossing the very busy highway traffic to get to the ocean.

Like many of the OBX beaches situated along the 85 miles of this barrier island, Kitty Hawk Beach is surrounded by sand dunes, which are protected by local legislation.

This means visitors should only use designated sandy paths and boardwalks to access beaches.

Dogs are not permitted between the hours of 9am and 6pm during the busy season, May 15 and September 15.

And visitors should be cautious of turtle nesting season, which also runs from May until September.

Early risers will definitely want to kick start the day at Kitty Hawk Beach; can you beat that energizing feeling of the sun on your face?

This was a personal highlight from my dreamy vacation!

Sea glass collectors might have more success a little south of Kitty Hawk at Southern Shores or around Avon on Hatteras Island.

Kitty Hawk Beach Lifeguard Tower in Outer Banks

Surf Lessons

Why not learn a new skill while taking time off work?

During this surf lesson, attendees are taught about paddling techniques, pop-up, and foot placement before hitting the waves of the Atlantic Ocean!

Participants over the age of six are welcome, and everything is provided, so all you need to do is book and show up with a can-do attitude!

The lesson takes around 1 hour 30m minutes.

Duck Donuts

Did you even go to the OBX if you didn’t gorge on Duck Donuts (5230 N Virginia Dare Trail)?

This NC staple was founded in the town of Duck, close to Kitty Hawk, but has stores in most Outer Banks towns.

Brunch at Art’s Place

One of the hottest places to eat breakfast is in Kitty Hawk, so be prepared to arrive early and wait in line.

Art’s Place (4624 N Virginia Dare Trail) has an extensive brunch and drinks menu served indoors and on the patio.

If you do arrive during a busy time, staff will take your name and give you a buzzer so you can enjoy the sun while scrolling on your phone to pass the time.

Go for the biscuit!

Sea Scape Golf Links

Another reason people visit the OBX is for its greens.

Sea Scape Golf Links (300 W Eckner St) is open all year round to the public and offers club rentals and a fully stocked pro shop.

Reviews state that the grounds are in good shape, and some holes provide a decent challenge; the Sandtrap Tavern doors are open for when you need to drown your sorrows or celebrate a win!

Sundown Drinks at Black Pelican

Another incredibly popular restaurant in Kitty Hawk is the Black Pelican Oceanfront Dining (3848 N Virginia Dare Trail).

The 2-story building has a main restaurant downstairs and a bar that serves food with views upstairs.

There’s a very extensive menu of seafood and pub grub, and I dare you to walk by the desserts without ordering some local pie!

Parking is available on-site.

Hurricane Mo’s

Bar hopping will probably be one of the most popular things for adults to do in Kitty Hawk when it rains, so let’s introduce the lively Hurricane Mo’s (120 E Kitty Hawk Rd).

This beachside bar and grill is located next to the Black Pelican, and while it is smaller in size, it definitely makes up for it in energy!

Expect live music and sing-alongs with sunburnt patrons and lots of booze.

Hurricane Mo Bar building and sign and sundown in Kitty Hawk

Fresh Crabs

If you prefer to dine at home during your OBX getaway, I Got Your Crabs (3809 N Croatan Hwy) is a locally owned, family-operated oyster and blue crab bar that sells freshly caught takeout seafood.

It also has a restaurant, but it does not accept reservations, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Kitty Hawk Attractions By The Sound

Kitty Hawk Skatepark

On the other side of the town, you’ll find more residential services, such as the public skatepark (908 W Kitty Hawk Rd) at the mouth of Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve.

The park has a concrete open bowl, ledges, quarters, and banks, as well as a gazebo with tables and a grill.

Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve

Connected to the skatepark are the nature trails around Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve, which bypasses swamp-like waters and provides shaded wood paths for hikers and runners.

There are information signs placed around the trails highlighting the local fauna and animals, which include snakes!

Tip: You might need to bug spray if you plan to spend time here.

Wright Brothers Garage Monument

While most visitors will know about the huge Wright Brothers Memorial in neighboring Kill Devil Hills, a hidden gem is the Garage Monument (3839-3857 Moor Shore Rd) nestled among a local’s front yard!

The monument is a replica of the 1928 one, dedicated to the first glider built by Wilbur Wright in the area on September 17, 1900.

Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright were pioneers credited with flying the first motor-operated airplane ten years before the first commercial flight took to the air in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Wright Brothers Garage Memorial in Kitty Hawk Outer Banks

Wright Brothers All-Purpose Trail

The memorial is very close to the Wright Brothers All-Purpose Trail, which is a well-worn flat path used by walkers, runners, cyclists, and fishermen/women.

The 2500-foot concrete path passes Kitty Hawk Bay, where we saw a cottonmouth snake in the water!

Let’s head back over to dry land on the Atlantic Ocean side of OBX and visit a close neighbor that is just as busy as Kitty Hawk, Kill Devils Hills.

Cottonmount Snake Swims in Sound Kitty Hawk

Things to Do Near Kitty Hawk – Kills Devil Hills Attractions

Ashley’s Espresso Parlour

Start the day the local way at the award-winning Ashely’s Espresso Parlour (100 E Helga St) in Kills Devil Hills, just south of Kitty Hawk.

This compact coffee shop has a few tables indoors among gift store items, as well as a garden area with chairs.

Avalon Pier

Avalon Pier (2111 N Virginia Dare Trail) differs from Kitty Hawk as it is fully open to the paying public, giving visitors access to a sizeable bar with live music events, a games area, restrooms, and the fishing pier.

There is also a ticketed parking lot, which makes this area of the beach quite populated.

Avalon Pier Beach at Kills Devil Hills Outer Banks

Live Music at The Jolly Roger Restaurant

Close to Avalon Pier is the quaint Jolly Roger bar that has a number of seats along the bar, tables at the back, and outdoor space, too.

Games are played on the TV indoors, and live music is often presented outside; a lively spot!

Hand holding pint of beer in colorful bar The Jolly Rodger in Kill Devil Hills

The Kill Devil Grill

The Kill Devil Grill (2008 S Virginia Dare Trail) is a funky diner recommended by our VRBO host.

The restaurant serves nicely presented seafood, salads, wings, and burgers in a National Register of Historic Places diner!

Hayman Blvd Gazebo

Hopping back over to the bay side of the island for sundown, Hayman Blvd Gazebo is one of the sunset spots near Kitty Hawk.

On-street parking is located near the wooden structure, which gets busy every night with visitors looking to watch the free glowing show.

It’s not unheard of for herons to pull up, too!

Hayman Blvd Gazebo intense Sunset in Kill Devils Hills

Wright Brothers National Memorial

On December 17, 1903, two brothers achieved the first successful airplane flight, changing the world forever.

The local Wright Brothers National Memorial (1000 N Croatan Hwy) gives aviation fans the chance to stand at the First Flight Boulder & Flight Line, experience a reconstructed hangar, see a sculpture of the first plane, and learn more about the Wright brothers’ story at the Visitors Center.

Those that are not interested in visiting can see the memorial while driving along the highway.

Wright Brothers National Monument sign and entrance in Kills Devil Hills Outer Banks

Jockey’s Ridge State Park

A little further south of Kill Devil Hills is a vast area covered in sand dunces called Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

The free state park is located in Nags Head, just nine miles from Kitty Hawk, and is a creative spot for photography.

It is also where visitors try their hand at gliding and kite flying, which is cool to watch.

For more things to do around Nags Head and further south, read our guide to Outer Banks towns.

Couple Shadow in Dunes at Jockey’s Ridge Park Nags Head in Outer Banks

Hand Gliding

If you want to do more than just watch people try to hand glide, you too can join this three-hour tour.

The lesson starts with a 30-minute introduction then it’s off up in the air for a handful of training flights!

All equipment is provided.

Reviews say this is one of the best things to do near Kitty Hawk with kids.

Hand Gliders on dunes of Jockey Ridge Park Nags Head Outer Banks

Final Words

From the ocean to the air, there are so many fun things to do in Kitty Hawk and its surrounding towns.

Did we skip your favorite? Do tell us in the comments; we enjoy hearing from you.

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